Published on October 27th, 2012 | by Stratton Lawrence0
Smokin’ at the Pour House: Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Pour House, Oct. 26
Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t what it used to be, but Chris Robinson and his band of brothers are doing their best to salvage what they can of it. Sporting locks and scruff that would hold their own as the house band at any Beard and Mustache society gathering, the quintet shimmied their way through two sets of groovy tunes highlighted by Robinson’s distinct croon and the wailing solos of guitarist Neal Casal, who adopts a head-back, mouth-wide-open stance whenever he’s traveling deep into the fretboard.
Through it all, the band’s greatest asset may be the pitch perfect harmonies of Casal and bassist Muddy Dutton, best showcased during the closing minutes of “Beware, Oh Take Care,” from their June release, Big Moon Ritual.
The incense smoke wafting from stage belied the underlying vibe in the room — this was smoky, throwback rock, with an emphasis on the roll. Black Crowes keyboardist Adam MacDougall gets more of a chance to shine with CRB than in the Crowes, adopting a distinctive puckered-cheek face whenever he’s laying down a particularly swanky riff.
CRB’s repertoire is still limited — they repeated several songs already played at the Pour House on Thursday, a decision that patriarch band the Grateful Dead might have frowned upon. Or not. CRB also threw in plenty of surprises. Midway through the first set, they began the unmistakable drive into the Dead’s “The Other One,” only to perform the song in near-entirety with completely different (and assumedly original) lyrics. One friend in the crowd who attended Thursday claims they took a similar approach to Widespread Panic’s “Space Wrangler” on the previous night.
Despite crowd-pleasing covers played close to their original state, including “Brown Eyed Women,” CRB is at their finest when offering their own take on classics or getting dark and stormy on original jams. Opening with a quick run-through of “Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go,” the opening track from September’s The Magic Door, the band finally got the audience dancing with their bluesy, shuffling take on Carl Perkin’s “Blue Suede Shoes.”
If you closed your eyes at the Pour House on Friday, you might just have easily been standing in a club in 1973. That’s the beauty of Chris Robinson Brotherhood — great music is timeless, and for folks who believe the best is already behind us, it’s refreshing to hear a modern band keep a classic sound alive.
Photos by Stratton Lawrence.
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